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Tobacco Tax: Reliable Revenue or Regressive Rip-Off?
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If the governor's proposed tobacco tax increase is approved, Connecticut would have the second-highest rate in the country. But critics worry it would hit poor people hardest and not do enough to help them quit.

At $2.75 per pack, Connecticut's cigarette tax is already the tenth highest in the country. Governor Rell wants to raise it by a dollar. Democratic lawmakers also want it higher, but by a quarter less.

On WNPR's Where We Live, Rell's budget chief Robert Genuario said in times of economic upheaval, so-called sin taxes provide reliable revenue.

"The tobacco taxes and the alcohol taxes are amongst our most stable taxes. Much more stable than the income tax, corporate taxes and even the sales tax."

Unlike an income tax, though, where wealthier residents pay higher tax bills, cigarette taxes tend to hit low-income residents. Andrew Haile is a law professor at Elon University who has written about tobacco taxes' impact.

"We know from CDC studies that the majority of smokes come from households making less than 35-thousand dollars a year. This is not the latte crowd who is paying the cigarette tax primarily."

Public health advocates support raising the tobacco tax. But instead of just bringing the money in to fill the state's coffers, they want to see more dedicated to smoking prevention - especially for poorer residents.

Kevin O'Flaherty is the northeast advocacy director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"The sad thing is that Connecticut is only one of six states that provides no cessation coverage, tobacco cessation coverage, to its Medicaid recipients. Two or three of those six states do at least provide it for pregnant women, and Connecticut doesn't do that either."

How much to raise the tax is part of the ongoing budget negotiations between the governor and Democratic legislative leaders. Six weeks after the start of the fiscal year, they're still trying to craft a two-year plan to close a projected 8.5 billion dollar deficit.


 

Cigarette Taxes

Is this tax hike going to include CIGARS smoked by many politicians, perhaps retroactively taxed to catch up with the cigarette "tabacco" tax hikes?  These cigars are used for illegal use also.  No one wants to legalize marijuana however cigars are emptied and used to make those blunts!  CIGARS would be a fantastic way of revenue too, don't put cigarette smokers on the chopping block everytime money is needed to replenish the pockets of overspenders.

By the way, what happened to all the money won in lawsuits against big tabacco companies.  I didn't get my cut of the awards for the patch, gum or pill to help me quit smoking yet.

What is CT doing with the money recieved from the casinos?  Will DOT snow removal workers be out plowing slush that never gets fully cleared and freezes anyway?  Will DOT be sitting idle in parking lots or at Dunkin Donuts guzzling caffeine because they're too tired to be on the road in the first place?  Will we see the sparks of DOT plow trucks (if they spark what and why are they plowing)? 

I am a retailer of

I am a retailer of ciggarettes and tobacco, I too am an ex-smoker. it was extremely tough for me to quit, ciggarettes are a highly addictive drug. to expect people who smoke to quit because of the price is a joke, it's a drug it's one of the most addictive drugs at that. People will end up going broke, steal to get a fix, they will do whatever it is to get a smoke, to fix the budget they need to look elsewhere, if they do raise taxes that money should be used, all 100% of it, to get people to quit smokeing. all anti smoking programs were halted or allowed to run out after the last CT cig tax increase. We Need a new govenor who cares about the people of this state not their own special interests.

Connecticut's tobacco tax

Increasing the tax on tobacco products sold in Connecticut will continue to attack a minority of taxpayers, with no plans to develop and implement a cessation program in sight.

As such a tax does not affect all people, it is unfair and should be revoked.  This sort of taxation accomplishes relatively little and, as in the past, will do little to solve the state budget deficit.